gallup millennials leadershipGallup released a new research study on Millennials. No real surprises in the summary report, but there are some areas of commonality between generations along with some work to be done. While this report was on my mind, I came across an article about the new football coach at Rutgers. The headline stated: “Rutgers coaches will be taught leadership techniques.” Interesting, right?

Is this about teaching leadership techniques to coaches? My first reaction was there must have been some issue, and now they are trying to remedy it. To my surprise, this was not the case. Teaching (and learning) leadership techniques is a proactive initiative by the head coach. But there is more to the story.

Football and Leadership

Chris Ash is the new coach at Rutgers, and he came from Ohio State. Working with Coach Urban Meyer, leadership development was a priority. Coaches were trained, and then they trained the players. A leadership consultant was hired to help with the program development. As Coach Ash said:

“A lot of guys just assume leadership is going to happen, others are very intentional about making it happen. I don’t think anybody was as intentional as we were at Ohio State during those two years to make that happen.”

A few points:

  • Leadership training happens in a train-the-trainer model. A good way to set the example for other leaders and team members.
  • Leadership development involves an intentional mindset.
  • Leadership development happens through training and coaches with a learning and sharing mindset.

The genesis of this approach started at Ohio State. Coach Meyer believes:

“Go from Point A to Point B as fast as you can for “4 to 6,” the number of seconds in a typical play. Play for your teammates more than for yourself. Embrace responding to pressure.”

This aligned well with Tim Kight’s leadership approach of E + R = O. In this formula:

  • E = Event
  • R = Response
  • O = Outcome

What this means is:

“The formula reflects the belief that for every event or situation a person faces, there can be a proper ‘above the line’ response or a negative ‘below the line’ one, resulting in a positive or negative outcome. Teaching how to respond appropriately has been his mission.”

The consultant’s philosophy is aligned well with the coach’s. A leadership development program for coaches and team members was born.

What transpired from here includes:

  • 60-90 minutes of training every week for the coaching staff.
  • Accountability through the “power of the unit” – small groups of team members who hold each other accountable.
  • Character development, answering: How do you want to be thought of?

More than these points, Kight emphasizes the systematic approach to leadership:

“We have a systematic way of teaching leadership, a systematic way of teaching culture and a systematic way of teaching behavior and tying them together in an integrated overall system.”

Moving to Gallup and Millennial Insights

What does this have to do with the new Gallup survey on Millennials? Good question. From the report, Millennials want to see the following elements in their career development:

  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Quality of their manager
  • Quality of management in general
  • Interest in the type of work and opportunities for advancement

Elements most generations would like to experience. The intensity may vary. Fifty-nine percent of Millennials rate opportunities to learn and grow as “extremely important” while 44 percent of Gen Xers and 41 percent of Baby Boomers say the same.

Engagement statistics across the generations are dismal. According to Gallup, the percentages for each generation that feels “Not Engaged” are:

  • 55% – Millennials
  • 50% – Gen Xers
  • 48% – Baby Boomers
  • 41% – Traditionalists

No generation is feeling overly engaged in their workplaces.

Here is a surprise (not really). To gain greater engagement, frequent and consistent communication helps. For Millennials, 44% feel engaged when this occurs, and a similar statistic appears for 43% of non-Millennials.

Tying Football, Gallup, Millennials, and Leadership Together

Let’s take a time-out. We just mixed in several different plays, and we need to take a break and determine what to do next. Here’s the next play:

  • As a leader, carve out time to define your leadership intent, personally and for your team.
  • Invest the time to train yourself and others in becoming better leaders. Leadership development is a weekly exercise. By exercising new leadership skills, you will strengthen yourself and a whole team.
  • Bring in trusted outside resources who match your leadership philosophy and work with them to develop a program for your team.
  • Intertwine purpose, character, and accountability through the leadership development program.
  • No matter the generation of a team member, we all want to work in places where we can learn, excel, and advance. Equally important, we want to work with quality people. Create this culture and reinforce it every day.
  • No matter the generation, we expect clear and consistent communication. Be transparent. Communicate mission with clarity. Listen well. Follow through on communicated next steps. Do these often, just as you would any healthy habit.

By implementing these leadership practices, your team will play well together, and your organization will shine well together. Now that is full engagement. And this is the power of leadership development across the generations.